Sanders urges Biden to distance himself from Netanyahu and his ‘horrific’ war

Senator warns US president risks failing in the next election if he loses the progressive vote

US Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 8, 2023. (AP/Jose Luis Magana, File)
US Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 8, 2023. (AP/Jose Luis Magana, File)

US Senator Bernie Sanders has called on US President Joe Biden to put distance between himself and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and “the horrific war he is waging against the Palestinian people.”

Sanders told The Guardian in an interview published on Saturday that being pro-Israel does not mean that Washington needs to support the Israeli premier.

Said Sanders: “I hope that he [Biden] understands that you can be pro-Israel without supporting Netanyahu and the horrific war he is waging against the Palestinian people.”

US support for the war in Gaza could be one of a number of issues that will lead progressive Democratic voters to not cast their ballots for Biden in the November 2024 presidential elections, he added.

When asked about the fact that he has notably not called for a full ceasefire in Israel’s war against the Hamas terror group, gaining the ire of his progressive colleagues, and whether the issue could cause splits in his wing of the party, Sanders said: “I think, at the end of the day, we’ll be alright.”

Sanders has said that a permanent ceasefire could lead to Hamas repeating the terror onslaught of October 7.

“I think Israel has the right to defend itself and to go after Hamas, not the Palestinian people,” he told CBS in December.

He did not elaborate on how he envisioned such a campaign could be waged.

A Gallup poll conducted between December 1 and December 20 found a record share of the United States public thinks that the US government is not doing enough to support Israel in the war.

US President Joe Biden is greeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport, on Oct. 18, 2023, in Tel Aviv. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

When asked by Gallup if they believed that the US was giving adequate support to Israel, 38 percent of respondents said that Israel receives the right amount of support. An additional 36% of people said Israel is getting too much support, while 24% said it isn’t getting enough.

According to Gallup, which has been asking the same question periodically since 2001, the 24% who say that the US isn’t doing enough for Israel is the highest figure it has ever recorded.

Sanders told the newspaper that he and his allies “hope to make clear to the president and his team that they are not going to win this election unless they come up with a progressive agenda that speaks to the needs of the working class of this country.”

“We’ve got to see the White House move more aggressively on healthcare, on housing, on tax reform, on the high cost of prescription drugs,” Sanders said. “If we can get the president to move in that direction, he will win; if not, he’s going to lose.”

Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on October 7, killing some 1,200 people in Israel, most of them civilians, amid horrifying acts of brutality and sexual violence. Around 240 others taken were hostage, of which 136 remain in captivity in Gaza.

Vowing to destroy the terror group, Israel launched a wide-scale military campaign in Gaza, which the Hamas-run health ministry has said killed over 23,000 people since. These figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. The IDF says it has killed over 8,500 terror operatives in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

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